East Bay hospital sees jump in rattlesnake bites amid COVID-19 shelter-in-place order

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- For so many of us trying to endure the shelter-in-place orders, the ability to get outside and get some exercise is crucial. But if that exercise involves going on a hike, or mountain biking on a rugged trail, there's another threat that we all need to aware of - rattlesnakes.

"Usually in a year, we'd probably see 11 or 12, all tolled between the two campuses and we've already seen four," said Dr. Russell Rodriguez M.D., the head of emergency medicine for John Muir Health Center in Walnut Creek and Concord.

RELATED: 'This is their home': How to stay safe during rattlesnake season from a snake expert

So while people are flocking to East Bay trails to get exercise and escape the doldrums of the coronavirus shelter order, they're running into a different threat.

Regulars at Walnut Creek's Shell Ridge say they've already seen the rattlesnakes on these trails, others say they haven't seen them yet, but they're aware.

"I'm not paranoid about it. I can see. I can run if I need to," said Janet Tillman as she and a friend headed up a trail at Shell Ridge. "It's beautiful, so it's worth it to be out for me."

RELATED: How to avoid snakes now that rattlesnake season has arrived in California

Shell Ridge regular Jan Richards told us what she does when she sees a rattlesnake. "I stop, I back up," said Richards. "Sometimes I stomp my feet a little bit so they can see the vibrations, but they generally skee-daddle."

And if one does suffer a rattlesnake bite?

"Keep the extremity that's been bitten as level to the heart as possible," explained Rodriguez. "Don't do things like suck the wound or use snakebite kits or compression wraps. If you're not in an accessible area, call 911 and our fire/EMS people will come pick you up and bring you to us."

RELATED: 'You're just a much larger predator': What to do when you encounter a rattlesnake

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